The brain can and should be trained. And these simple tips will make you smarter without going to university and reading hundreds of books.
1. Eat turmeric and drink pomegranate juice
The brain needs regular and healthy nutrition as much as the stomach does, but do not rush to buy supplements. According to many researchers, curry seasoning, which includes turmeric, strengthens memory and is a good prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric has an incredible amount of natural antioxidants, just like pomegranate juice. The latter, by the way, can even prevent brain damage in infants caused by fetal hypoxia.
Rosemary, cinnamon, basil, oregano, thyme, and sage are all great brain spices, too. There are many useful antioxidants in blueberries, grapes, prunes, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, artichokes, fish, turkey, olive oil and apples.
2. Prolong the pleasure
There is a theory that the hormone dopamine, necessary for attention and concentration, is released in the process of anticipating pleasure. The children, who were able to resist the temptation to eat a candy placed in front of them, turned out to be more intellectually developed years later than those who immediately ate it. The point is they learned to control their attention by focusing on something else.
Follow their example. Leave the cookies you were going to eat for dinner until tomorrow’s lunch – and you will not only keep your figure and train your willpower but also increase your concentration.
3. Memorize the phone numbers of your close friends
What for? To train short-term memory, which scientists call “the lever that can raise the entire intelligence.”
There was such an experiment: volunteers were asked to simultaneously listen to a sequence of letters and observe the appearance of figures in different places on the monitor. The participants had to determine when the mentioned letter and the position of the square repeated multiple times. The more they practiced these tasks, the better their fluid intelligence and their ability to solve problems regardless of their knowledge.
If phones are hard to remember, play memory games, make a list of purchases and urgent matters in your head, hide your calculator away, or learn poetry by heart.
4. Get enough sleep and feel the difference
A study conducted by scientists at Harvard University showed that memory continues to work in a dream, so it is easier to remember in the morning what didn’t come to your mind the night before.
Put a bouquet of roses in your bedroom or light a scented lamp when you are preparing for an exam or an important speech, and your chances of success will increase. The smell of roses, as well as geraniums, has a beneficial effect on memory and calms the nerves. Aroma energetics for the brain are mint, cypress and lemon.
5. Get moving
Physical activity promotes the growth of new cells in the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for the formation of emotions and the consolidation of memory) and protects existing ones. German researchers from the University of Ulm have proven that after a 30-minute run, the concentration of attention increases, information is better remembered, and you make fewer mistakes in your work.
In old age, people who lead an active lifestyle with a lot of aerobic exercises are 40% better oriented in space, which also correlates with the size of their hippocampus.
In addition, when the body spends more kilojoules on muscle work, the brain has to make do with less energy. As a result, special substances are produced that have a beneficial effect on the activity of neurons.
6. Learn a foreign language
It doesn’t matter which one, they are all equally useful. When the brain of a person who speaks French and English chooses which language to use, the cortical connections responsible for both languages are activated.
Then the “management” area in the subfrontal cortex of the brain joins in and selects the right word. This area is responsible for the higher functions of thinking, so when you learn new languages, other areas of the brain are activated, raising your IQ. If you’re not ready to enroll in a course right away, start with small steps. Use apps like Duolingo – just 10 minutes a day is enough!
7. Solve puzzles
Puzzles and crosswords reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so don’t berate yourself for spending an hour and a half a day solving Sudoku on your phone. It is also useful to collect puzzles – this simple exercise trains certain parts of the brain without loading it 100%, allowing you to think about pressing matters as well.
This method surely works if you have a permanent partner – for playing scrabble and not only! According to numerous studies, those who had a couple in their middle life were 50% less likely to develop dementia in old age than those who lived alone.
8. Listen to smart people
The world’s best minds regularly gather at international TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences to discuss the latest in science and culture, such as brain mapping and prenatal intelligence. Listen to them regularly.
The brain is capable of recharging when it works as if in standby mode. It happens when you daydream or just sit around, not really thinking about anything.
To get started, try the classic way of meditation: close your eyes, relax, take your mind off everything, and focus on your breathing. If everything is done correctly, after ten minutes, you will feel that the brain has rested.
10. Eat dark chocolate, drink water
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that improve memory. Try to drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day. Dehydration makes the brain work harder, which reduces mental activity.
11. Go to an exhibition
British doctors from Oxford Royal University examined 5,350 people from different social strata. One group included fans of intellectual leisure who regularly attend performances and exhibitions. The other group was all homebodies who spend the weekend watching TV.
It turned out that the memory, attention and intelligence of the representatives of the first group suffered much less from age-related changes. Conclusion: the brain rests much better when we comprehend, analyze, and compare something, getting aesthetic pleasure at the same time.
When contemplating works of art, the blood flow increases in the part of the brain that is responsible for pleasure and desire. When the participants in the experiment admired the paintings, the MRI recorded feelings similar to those that a person usually experiences when looking at a beloved person.
12. Play a video game
Numerous studies prove that video games can activate the brain’s hidden potential and teach you to navigate both in virtual and real space better.
Scientists from the University of Rochester found that people who play action games several times a week can simultaneously monitor many objects and process rapidly changing visual information more efficiently.
13. Learn salsa
Dancing is generally an excellent therapy, “unloading” the body and brain. Any rhythmic movement to the music will increase cerebral circulation and ensure the release of the hormone oxytocin, which activates the work of neurons.
Some dances, especially those requiring developed coordination, teach quick reactions, help to concentrate and tune in to making decisions.
14. Have a siesta
Participants in the experiment had to remember the names of 120 people they didn’t know, which involved the hippocampus. Those who slept for 90 minutes during the day after completing the task remembered more names than those who did not take a nap.
It is even more surprising that in the evening, they managed to remember even more names than the first time and again got ahead of their awake fellows. If you do not have the opportunity to take a nap for an hour and a half, lie down with your eyes closed for at least five to ten minutes. Such a mini-siesta also invigorates the spirit and increases energy levels.
15. Get a massage
Make it a rule to do a general body massage at least once every two weeks. Touching the skin activates a huge number of nerve endings – mediators between the skin and the brain.
The brain, in response, gives the body an order to produce endorphins. This ancient method of influencing the nervous system can be more beneficial than experimenting with medicines, especially if massage is done as a course.
Sex is also useful – at least once a week, and, as studies show, the presence of an orgasm does not affect brain function in any way. The main thing is the process, not the result!
16. Do something with your hands
Take your needles and knit a beautiful scarf. Make a bracelet of multi-colored beads as a gift for a friend. At worst, sew on the fallen-off buttons. Any training in fine motor skills activates the intellect. It is even better if you try to do it in a completely new way – for example, try sewing on a button with your left hand.
17. Buy a yellow blouse or scarf
Yellow color is sure to stimulate brain activity. Mental activity is toned up by red and orange colors, while green and blue, on the contrary, soothe it.
18. Do an ultrasound of the cervical arteries
Once a year, check the condition of your blood vessels to make sure that your brain is not on a “starvation diet”. With microcirculation disorders or vasospasm, the brain lacks oxygen and glucose. This can give you a headache and you will literally “slow down”.
Yet, resorting to Ritalin and other drugs to stimulate the brain without serious medical indications is a bad idea. This is “health on credit” – nootropics help, but are addictive and have a lot of side effects. As for vitamins, E, C and folic acid are good for the brain.
19. Build a memory palace
This technique helps to remember faster. Associate what you want to remember with some vivid pictures. Even if you don’t have the patience to build a “palace”, at least get familiar with this technique by reading “How to Develop Perfect Memory” by Dominic O’Brien.
20. Try not to smile
Experiments have proven that simply by frowning, you begin to think more skeptically and analytically. In general, this is true: laughter is a rest for the brain, and melancholy provokes serious work of thought and reflection.
21. Listen to Mozart
Psychologists made a discovery ten years ago: Mozart’s musical works improve mathematical thinking. After listening to Mozart, rats overcame mazes faster and more accurately than after listening to noise or, for example, Philip Glass.
22. Reread Shakespeare
Scientists from the University of Liverpool have proven that Shakespeare’s language can make us smarter. Yes, in principle, any artistic language, especially if it is poetry.
The linguistic “functional shift method”, in which, for example, a noun is used as a verb, makes the brain understand what the word means even before its function in the sentence is realized. It makes the brain work hard.
If Shakespeare makes you sleepy, read any classic. Even if it is 15 minutes a day. Reading stimulates the imagination: the plot of the book turns into visual images in the head, which stimulates brain activity. The more you read throughout your life, the less cognitive impairment will bother you.
23. Try something different
Professor of neuroscience Lawrence Katz calls it neurobic exercises. These exercises do not allow dendrites (nerve cells) to atrophy since their performance involves different areas of the brain.
The point is to change the usual course of events and make the brain work in a new way in new circumstances. For example, to go to work by a completely different route. Take a shower with the lights off, using your sense of touch instead of sight. Go to the restaurant “In the Dark” with blind waiters, where people eat by touch.
Try to hold the spoon with your left hand all day (if you are right-handed). Surprise food for breakfast, a new way to warm up before a workout, a crossword puzzle instead of a detective at night – everything counts! With a little practice, you can easily come up with neurobic exercises yourself. There should be a new exercise each day, this is important.
24. Embrace stress
Soviet and Russian neuroscientist and psychologist Natalia Bekhtereva, who for many years led research on the superpowers of the human brain, received evidence that insights are observed not only in geniuses.
Intellectual and creative breakthroughs in ordinary people occur when they have to solve super-tasks. From which the conclusion follows: difficulties are necessary, and problems that at first glance seem insoluble may turn out to be the best that life can offer us.
25. Play the piano
Take out the old sheet music and dust off the lid. No one else is standing over you like in your school days, and you can play to your heart’s content. Whatever you want – from a dog waltz to avant-garde pieces of your own composition.
Don’t you know how to play music? Take lessons from a professional musician, a gifted neighbor, or your own second-grade son. Whether you’re blowing, hitting the strings, or tapping your sticks, playing any instrument improves your IQ by engaging the memory and coordination part of your brain.
26. Start writing with a pen
Write a letter to a loved one on paper. Try to rewrite the text you like, changing the handwriting several times beyond recognition. Practice writing with your left hand if you are right-handed.
Brain scans show that the successive movements that the hand performs while writing activate the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, speech, memory, that is, the entire system of temporary storage and information processing.
By the way, it has been proven that elementary and middle school students use more words, write faster and express themselves better when they write by hand rather than type on a keyboard.
27. Indulge in coffee
You can have a second cup. It has been found that women who drink up to four cups of coffee a day are less likely to experience depression than those who allow themselves one cup a week.
Other studies have shown that coffee improves short-term memory. In 2011, the journal Nature Neuroscience published a study confirming that neuronal connections were activated in lab rats when exposed to caffeine. The more connections between neurons, the higher the ability to learn and remember.
28. Start a blog or write a review online
On the Internet, anyone has the right to be a critic. Write about what you like or don’t like on sites where non-professional reviews are welcome. A statement of opinion will help you better understand your own way of thinking. Analysis and critical thinking are effective vitamins for your brain.
29. Do the Pythagorean exercise before bed.
Replay the events of the day in your mind, remembering the smallest details. Ask yourself: “What did I do today? What did you not do that was important? What am I ashamed of? What is there to rejoice in?” Once you’ve mastered the “mind test” technique about what happened during the day, begin to gradually dive into the past.
Remember what happened yesterday, the day before yesterday, trying to restore any more or less important details. “Exam of consciousness” perfectly trains memory, attention, and conscience. It is no coincidence that people prepare for confession in the same way.
30. Play with the kids
Their spontaneity awakens creative energy in adults. It’s also a great workout for the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotions.
The development of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy and sociability) is no less a worthy task than the struggle for a high IQ score. Moreover, the eternal childhood habit of asking “why?” about everything would be good for adults too.
If you allow yourself to be curious and ask this question to yourself and others many times a day, you will begin to get answers. Imagine how many interesting things you will learn!